Giants

Giants

SCOTTSDALE -- Brandon Crawford will count his throws this spring in an effort to limit the wear and tear on a sore shoulder. He dealt with this issue last year, too, and said he actually feels better this time around. 

That's good news for the Giants, but Bruce Bochy isn't taking any chances. Crawford was the DH in Wednesday's spring opener and won't play the field for at least a week. Bochy said Denard Span, coming off hip surgery, also will DH in his first few Cactus League games. Angel Pagan won't play at all until March 8.

"I talked to him," Bochy said of Pagan. "He had surgery this offseason. This is to make sure he doesn't hurt himself."

[PAVLOVIC: Samardzija ready to rely on his new MVP catcher]

Bochy insisted that all the "slow-played" regulars are fine and would be in the lineup if this were the regular season. In addition to Crawford, Span and Pagan, Hunter Pence will miss a week with Achilles soreness. Bochy said that injury is almost a "silver lining" because it's hard to convince Pence to take time off. Buster Posey will be the DH in the first few innings of Thursday's game and then won't play until Johnny Cueto's Giants debut on Saturday. That means Posey, who caught all of Madison Bumgarner's pitches last year, won't be part of the battery for Bumgarner's spring debut.

Bochy said he originally planned to sit Posey on Wednesday but the catcher wants to work with Samardzija and Cueto, the two new guys, early in camp.

 

All of this means that prospects and non-roster invitees will see plenty of action this month. One of them, Conor Gillaspie, took advantage on Wednesday with a solo homer in a 4-1 win over the Trout-less Angels. Gillaspie is one of hundreds of non-roster invitees trying to make an impact across Arizona and Florida, and it's become one of my favorite spring traditions to look through the spring training media guide and find former Giants who are (sometimes inexplicably) still trying to make a team. Here's this year's list: 

Diamondbacks: Joaquin Arias
Cubs: Jean Machi, Juan Perez
White Sox: Hector Sanchez, Travis Ishikawa
Reds: Jonathan Sanchez (seriously!)
Indians: Guillermo Quiroz
Rockies: Jackson Williams
Royals: David Huff
Dodgers: Charlie Culberson, Brandon Hicks
A’s: Eric Surkamp
Padres: Nick Noonan
Red Sox: Chris Dominguez
Tigers: Nate Schierholtz
Marlins: Justin Maxwell
Twins: Dan Runzler
Mets: Johnny Monell
Phillies: Emmanuel Burriss
Blue Jays: Brad Penny

Also, the Braves have a pitcher named Madison Younginer. 

STOCK RISING: Trevor Brown is trying to win an opening day spot behind Posey and he got off to a nice start with two hits and a run. Kelby Tomlinson is trying to win an opening day spot behind Crawford and he got off to a nice start with a hit and some smooth plays at short. Bochy is going to give Tomlinson a ton of time at short this spring, and the staff is hopeful that he can be the main backup during the season. "I thought he looked comfortable," Bochy said. "He had a tough play coming in ... it was a big play, too. He handled that with no problem." That play got Samardzija out of the second inning.

STOCK FALLING: My dream of watching a position player pitch. Crawford, who pitched a bit at UCLA, was a top candidate a few years back. #FreeBelt 

NOTABLE: Posey had just one at-bat. He singled to center. He’s still good at baseball … Christian Arroyo was 1 for 2 with an RBI; he was playing third base, by the way ... Mike Broadway struck out two in 1 1/3 innings. He's got an outside shot at taking an opening day spot in the bullpen ... Derek Law made his return to the Cactus League and struck out two in a perfect inning ... Was it a coincidence that George Kontos' first outing since Game 162 was also a save opportunity? Bochy wouldn't say, but Kontos pitched an easy inning to pick up the save.

ICYMI: My feature for the day is on the budding Samardzija-Posey relationship and what Posey can mean to a pitcher given $90 million last December. And here's my story on Clayton Blackburn's strange day.

QUOTABLE: "On the field, I felt great." -- Joe Panik, who played his first fully-healthy game in a long, long time.